Aircraft

Kitty Hawk autonomous flying taxi officially unveiled

Kitty Hawk autonomous flying t...
Kitty Hawk's Cora self-flying air taxi for two has officially launched in New Zealand
Kitty Hawk's Cora self-flying air taxi for two has officially launched in New Zealand
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Cora moves forward with the help of a single prop at the rear
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Cora moves forward with the help of a single prop at the rear
Kitty Hawk's Cora self-flying air taxi for two has officially launched in New Zealand
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Kitty Hawk's Cora self-flying air taxi for two has officially launched in New Zealand
Helicopter-like vertical lift off comes courtesy of its 12 wing-based propellers
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Helicopter-like vertical lift off comes courtesy of its 12 wing-based propellers
Kitty Hawk's prototype managed its first self-piloted hover back in December 2011
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Kitty Hawk's prototype managed its first self-piloted hover back in December 2011
The Kitty Hawk prototype achieved vertical lift off and forward movement in February 2014
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The Kitty Hawk prototype achieved vertical lift off and forward movement in February 2014
Cora's range is reckoned to be about 62 miles (100 km) per charge, and it's reported capable of getting up to 110 mph (180 km/h)
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Cora's range is reckoned to be about 62 miles (100 km) per charge, and it's reported capable of getting up to 110 mph (180 km/h)
Kitty Hawk says that Cora can fly up to 3,000 ft (915 m) and each of the wing rotors can operate independently
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Kitty Hawk says that Cora can fly up to 3,000 ft (915 m) and each of the wing rotors can operate independently
Kitty Hawk has officially launched the Cora project, and begun the journey to commercialization
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Kitty Hawk has officially launched the Cora project, and begun the journey to commercialization
"Cora is about giving everyone a fast and easy way to get around that doesn’t come at the expense of the planet," says Kitty Hawk
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"Cora is about giving everyone a fast and easy way to get around that doesn’t come at the expense of the planet," says Kitty Hawk
View gallery - 9 images

Kitty Hawk, the same group of California dreamers who introduced the leisure-focused Flyer last year, has revealed an all-electric, self-piloted air taxi in New Zealand. The company, which is backed by Alphabet's Larry Page, has been working on "an aircraft so personal it could weave the freedom of flight into our daily lives" since 2010. Cora is the result – a two-seater short hop aircraft that can lift off and land like a helicopter and flies forward like an airplane.

The first self-piloted hover of Kitty Hawk's flying taxi prototype took place at the end of 2011, but it didn't graduate to vertical take-off and forward flight until February 2014. A human test pilot took control of the proof of concept flyer last August and, after reaching agreements for the development and testing of the project with the government of New Zealand in October 2017, the first self-flying air taxi was shipped over.

Cora moves forward with the help of a single prop at the rear
Cora moves forward with the help of a single prop at the rear

Flight tests soon followed under an experimental airworthiness certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and the United States Federal Aviation Administration. And now Kitty Hawk has officially launched the Cora project, and begun the journey to commercialization.

"Cora isn't just about flying," Kitty Hawk said. "It's about people and mobility. It's about the time you could save soaring over traffic. The friends you could visit. The opportunities you could seize. Cora is about giving everyone a fast and easy way to get around that doesn't come at the expense of the planet."

No production timeframe has been laid out at this point, the developers need to make sure everything works as advertised before making the aircraft available for public use. Though you won't be able to realize your dream of zipping about in a privately-owned Jetson-like flyer, as Kitty Hawk says that Cora will be sold to service operators only.

Cora has been designed for two passengers. The idea is to make the flying taxi accessible to all, even those who don't have a pilot's license. To this end it can operate using self-flying software, and features three flight computers that make sure the aircraft knows where it is at all times, each able to work on its own to safeguard against systems failure.

Cora's range is reckoned to be about 62 miles (100 km) per charge, and it's reported capable of getting up to 110 mph (180 km/h)
Cora's range is reckoned to be about 62 miles (100 km) per charge, and it's reported capable of getting up to 110 mph (180 km/h)

Helicopter-like vertical lift off comes courtesy of its 12 wing-based propellers, and the aircraft moves forward with the help of a single prop at the rear. Each of the wing rotors can operate independently, so if one fails it won't have an adverse effect on the operation of the remaining working units. Should the worst happen, and power does cut out during flight, a parachute will be launched to allow it to land safely.

Kitty Hawk says that Cora can fly up to 3,000 ft (915 m), has a range that's reckoned to be about 62 miles (100 km) per charge, which will make it good for short hops, and it's reported capable of getting up to 110 mph (180 km/h).

With companies like Airbus, Ehang and Uber also developing flying taxis, it seems that the air above us could soon be filled with relatively quiet and emissions-free people movers of all shapes and sizes.

You can find out more on the Cora project in the launch video below.

Source: Kitty Hawk

Meet Cora

View gallery - 9 images
10 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
The concept that this design is based upon should be the most successful: that of separating the vertical propelling from the horizontal propelling. The beauty here is, though they've chosen to be exclusively electric with this design (laudable but presently limiting), it certainly has the potential to incorporate a hybrid power plant setup. The simple (ha ha) adjustment of placing a fossil-fuel engine to drive both the horizontal propelling (directly) as well as an electric generator to recharge battery/supercap storage (for the vertical) would push the range envelope immensely, exploding its application potential. I foresee many similar efforts arising to enjoy great success in this market. Great outlook for the future of transportation, I think!
Supervolant
Flying urban mobility is how I came to NewAtlas. I am very thankful for keeping us updated on this particular awesome subject which I am very passionate about myself!
I am myself designing and building my solution to the challenge of vertical take off transportation and look very much forward to hand it to you guys over as one of the very first as a thank you!
Hugh Shipman
I don't mind seeing the idea of flying taxis--even autonomous ones (again, no jobs right?). They will eventually have their place. However, they are not a practical substitute for a genuine nationwide public transportation system. What I really want to see is the introduction of high speed rail networks which are everywhere in Europe and Asia. Whenever I'm in Europe, getting around is easy because of high speed rail. Once at my destination, I rent a small electric car or just hop the buses which are also everywhere and go everywhere. My point is, the U.S. needs a better public transportation network. Instead, we seem to be stalled and fixating on things such as flying taxis. To me, that's moving in the wrong direction because it will only service people with the money to pay for it.
Bob
Possible-yes. Practical-no. Economical-not likely.
sigerictheserious
that's all we need...skies full of buzzing flying machines. what about privacy concerns? they'll have to fly on designated airlanes, not over people's houses.
and what's the hurry? slow down. you'll live longer.
Deres
@MzunguMkubwa| Separating horizontal and vertical propulsion goes toward simplicity but it means more weight. And adding weight is not a good idea in aeronautics as it directly diminish the useful load. Moreover, in this case, you also need a wing and you will have the drag and weight of all those propulsors on the wing in horizontal flight.
Towerman
@Hugh
No it will create more jobs, rail and public ground dtransport is so primitive, boring and over utilized. No one will ever climb into an air taxi unpiloted, it's just advertising hype, reality is far different, we've had airplanes capable of autonomous flight take off and landings for over a decade, can you tell me an airline which operates without a pilot ? not even cargo planes are without physical pilots.
So more flying jobs will be created.
Towerman
@sigerictheserious
What privacy concerns ?? These are air transport vehicles not spying devices used for spying intentions, many helicopters fly low level over my house, i don't mind at all, and it's much louder than the mildly bee buzz you will here over your house as one passes by.
Tom Lee Mullins
It is like an airplane and a quad copter had a baby. I think it is neat looking.
ljaques
I think we'll see a lot of aerial objects like this just as soon as the Mr. Fusion comes out in bulk, giving them endless range. Toss last night's dinner scraps in the top and run it for a week.